All The Mornings Still To Come
by Diane Bellomo
If love is a healer, who’ll be the first ones ill? Lovers will.
It was a while before B’Elanna could muster the courage to visit, and even then she was alone and it was the middle of the night. Truth be told, it wasn’t so much courage as plain old curiosity that finally brought her to Deck 6. Tom was in here all the damn time, nevermind the captain and just about the entire rest of the crew, and she couldn’t stand it anymore. It was just that she’d spent so many months spouting off about her dislike of the program she was loathe to have anyone discover her curiosity was getting the better of her. She had to find out what the big deal was. Oh sure, Torres, she chided herself, come by yourself in the middle of the night, that’s the way to find out what’s so great about this program. It helped, of course, that the holocharacters had accepted the crew as “time travelers,” but she still didn’t want to be caught. By anyone.
It was well after the close of Beta shift, nearly 2410 hours, in fact, and not another soul was in sight. Glancing first in both directions down the corridor just to be sure, she leaned forward towards the sensor and spoke softly. “Computer, run program ‘Fair Haven.’” As she spoke, a grisly memory surfaced, of painful injuries and fears of abandonment, but it was gone as quickly as it came. She was healthy now, and though the Doc told her she would probably carry the memories to her grave, the days of acting on them were far behind her.
The doors wheezed open to reveal a barren street, bathed in shadows. Fair Haven was programmed to run on the same timetable as Voyager herself. In other words, it was ten past midnight here, too. Scattered streetlamps barely shed enough light to reach the ground, but it was enough to see how well things were put together. Even the air carried the briny scent of the sea.
She wandered down the deserted street, squinting at details. She stopped once and squatted down to brush her hand across the rough cobblestones, impressed with their authenticity. At one point, she looked up, and was not surprised to see stars and a moon (not just a moon, either, but the Moon, Luna herself) shining down from their homes against the velvet blackness. Somewhere very nearby, sheep bleated and she heard the sound of a cowbell. God, did Maggie turn into a cow every…no, no, she pushed that thought from her head.
Continuing down the street, her eyes fell upon the only window with a light in it: Sullivan’s pub. She walked towards it.
* * *
Michael Sullivan puttered behind his bar, rearranging bottles and just generally enjoying the stillness and the quiet. It was late, nearly half past midnight, and he figured he should probably go on home. But since there were dirty glasses in the sink that would probably not wash themselves, he decided he might as well get them done now as in the morning. Besides, since Voyager was still in orbit, it was quite possible someone might get a little dry and pay him a call. He had learned from Katie that the ship’s duty shifts were split into thirds and that anyone could be off duty at anytime. He knew he was the only one with lights on at this hour, so if some person or persons from Voyager decided to visit Fair Haven, they would eventually show up on his doorstep. He lifted a glass from the sink and took a rag to it.
He was polishing the third glass when he heard the door creak open and looked up to see a young woman in a gold-topped uniform framing the doorway. She was still in the shadows, so he couldn’t tell who it was, but it was clear by her stance that she was a bit unsure about coming in. So he did his job. He was a barkeep, after all.
“Evenin’ there, lass. Welcome t’Sullivan’s. Come in, sit down, what’ll ya have? Don’t believe I know you—”
As he was talking, she had stepped into the light, her arms folded across her chest, eyeing him suspiciously, like she thought he might toss a glass at her.
He amended his comment immediately. “Well, there now, I do know you, don’t I? C’mon, take a stool here, B’Elanna Torres.” He patted the bar for emphasis.
She slid onto the stool, suspicion ratcheted up a notch. “You’re Michael Sullivan. How do you know who I am? You’ve never seen me before.”
He thought about pretending he had made a mistake and really didn’t know her, but dismissed that idea right away. She was Voyager’s Chief Engineer and tough as nails, according to Tom Paris. If she knew he was lying, she’d probably dismantle him and his bar—or worse—without batting an eyelash. Talk about your ‘unholy magick.’ His knowledge of Voyager was perplexing enough; he didn’t need to invite further trouble.
“That’s true enough, but I don’t need t’have seen you t’know who you are.” He went for a distraction. “What’ll you have? I’ve got a full keg of homebrew I picked up yesterday from a friend over in County Clare. Robust, but I think you might like it.” Robust was hardly the word for the wicked ale Mick Flannagan brewed, but it was his best seller.
“Fine.” He wasn’t fool enough to believe his distraction had worked, but at least she appeared willing to let further questioning go for a minute.
They were silent while he went about the business of drawing her ale. He set the pint glass in front of her and she studied it a moment before picking it up and taking a long pull. He wondered if he should tell her it contained real alcohol rather than whatever that 24th-Century stuff was called. He could never remember its name. No matter. He noticed the pint was now half-empty, and she looked none the worse for it, so he figured it wasn’t necessary to tell her. He wasn’t quite sure what the difference was, anyway. Neelix had explained it, and he understood the part about drinking while you were on duty and being able to instantly shake off the affects, but for the most part, you usually didn’t come to a bar while you were on duty. And you certainly didn’t want to be able to ‘shake off the affects.’
Of course, maybe he was cheating a little tonight, since his was the only door open, but she had come in and she was drinking with fair gusto. You never knew what drew a person to a bar, and sometimes what drew them in wasn’t necessarily what made them stay.
She brought him back to the present with the same question, this time spoken like she meant business. “How do you know me without ever having seen me?” She took another healthy drink, draining the glass and holding it up to the light. “You’re right, I do like this stuff.” She plunked the glass back on the bar. “So. How do you know me?”
He was thoroughly enjoying her. Was she egging him to verify something she already knew, or was her question sincere? He had also learned from Tom that she was the “egging” type, but he wondered just how much he should admit. Looking at her big dark eyes, which were becoming decidedly glassy, he decided she was being as sincere as she knew how to be, and it could very well be what brought her to Fair Haven on this night.
“Tom Paris talks about you all the time.”
Her reaction was immediate and endearing, sincere to the core. It was clear she had never once considered that Tom might be talking about her while he gallivanted about Fair Haven. She sucked in her bottom lip and dropped her eyes to her hands around the base of the glass, clicking a fingernail against it. “He does?”
“Yes, he does.”
Michael Sullivan had been told many times by Tom that his girlfriend was a spitfire to the nth degree. He said she was the hybrid result of an inter-species mating between a Human and a Klingon who had inherited the warrior genes of both parents and very little else. He also said she didn’t care for Fair Haven and vowed never to visit.
After obtaining permission and instructions from Katie, Michael had consulted Voyager’s computer database to learn what he could about Klingons. He didn’t have to read too far into the information to know they weren’t a race to be messed with. But he did rather admire their drinking prowess and the songs that went with it. Sitting in front of the computer screen, he had shook his head and marveled at the wonders the future held, thankful he would not be around to participate.
Looking at B’Elanna just now, he could easily see the ridges on her forehead that defined her as Klingon, and she certainly appeared able to drink like a Klingon, but he could not see spitfire anywhere.
He didn’t know whether Tom had been bragging or just frightened when he imparted the information about B’Elanna, but one thing Tom had failed to mention was B’Elanna’s charming unawareness of her ability to send a man to his knees. It occurred to Michael that Tom probably didn't mention it because he was on his knees himself and was, therefore, blind to it. Michael had been in the presence of B’Elanna Torres for less than fifteen minutes and already he was prepared to do anything for her. For Tom, who was deeply in love, the feeling must have been ten times stronger. In fact, he was a bit surprised Tom hadn’t simply turned his back on Fair Haven the first time she mentioned she didn’t like the place, but was immediately grateful he hadn’t.
She raised her eyes and her glass. “Refill, please.”
He took her glass and filled it again, this time carefully positioning a coaster on the bar before settling the glass in front of her. “So, why’re ya here, darlin’? Surely you can get a synthale (that’s the word!) in the mess hall.”
“Guess so.” She took a drink and put the glass down off-center of the coaster. With her elbow on the table, she leaned her cheek against the inside of her arm and rolled her eyes up so she could see him. “What does Tom say about me?”
He gave her a hard look, which she didn’t notice, checking again for signs of ulterior motive. Again, he found none. Could it possibly be that Tom never said directly to her the things he said about her in Fair Haven? If that were the case, he’d have to get Liam to work him over a couple of times. In the meantime, he decided this young woman’s question deserved an answer.
“He says you are the most beautiful woman in the universe, that you bring light t’his days and heat t’his nights. He says he does not know what he ever did to deserve you, but he’s never gonna give you a reason t’doubt his love.”
She straightened up and her eyes grew bright. She sniffed and took a huge swallow of the ale. But when she turned her dark eyes to him, they were narrowed and blazing, and he had an idea he was getting a firsthand eyeful of spitfire. He wondered what she was about to say that could have caused her mood to shift so quickly, but he didn’t have to wonder very long. What she said, however, was perfectly not what he was expecting.
“What are your intentions towards Captain Janeway?” So. This was the way the conversation was going to go, huh? Well, he could handle it. He’d certainly handled worse, and as for this particular question, it wasn’t the first time he’d heard it. In fact, it wasn’t even the second or third, and he marveled at the way Kathryn Janeway’s crew seemed to stand around her, possessive and protective, ready to bust a few heads of their own if anyone even hinted at unscrupulousness. He answered her the way he’d answered everyone else who’d asked, including that little pixie, Naomi Wildman.
“I intend t’love her as long as she’ll have me, and after that, I intend t’be her friend until long after Voyager departs this fair land for her own century.”
His directness clearly cooled the blaze. “Oh.” She took another drink and went back to leaning on her arm, running a fingertip through the sweat the glass had left on the bar. He turned and began washing glasses again, waiting for her to continue the conversation, such as it was. Once more, it didn’t take long.
“Seems kinda weird, hearing you talk about us like that.”
“Well, uh, like time travelers.”
He came over to her, tossing the damp rag over his shoulder. He took her glass and topped it off, skipping the coaster this time. “You are time travelers, B’Elanna, but I’ll tell you this, I’m happier knowing who you are, rather than how it was before. This whole thing might be confusing as hell, but let me tell ya, ignorance is not bliss.”
She smiled widely, blinked a couple times, and swallowed hard, as if she were fighting an urge to say something she didn’t want to say. After a moment, she regained her self-control, replying simply, “Really?” She lifted her newly-filled glass to her lips and took a deep drink. He wondered if he had just been spared another spitfire example – or something even worse. Considering who these people were, he decided it’d be safer if he didn’t dwell on it too much.
Instead, he returned her smile, amused by the way she had stretched a two syllable word into three, and wiped a foam mustache from her upper lip. It was obvious she was not quite sober anymore, but for the most part her Klingon drinking genes were serving her admirably and he was suitably impressed. “Really, darlin.’ Now, if you’ll allow me to repeat m’self, ‘What brings ya here t’night?’ I should think you’d be with Tom on an evening as lovely as this.”
She frowned in concentration, opened her mouth, closed it again, frowned again at some inner snafu, and then answered him. “He’s…got Gammashifttonight, won’t be…offdutyuntil 0700 hours an’ I wanted t’come…here when…nobody wouldsee.”
Her words were beginning to run together, but he got the drift of it. “You’re here.” He made a sweeping gesture with his arm. “What do ya think?”
She put her elbow on the table and plopped her chin into her palm. “S’nice.”
“You should try it in the daytime, lass. I’m gonna go back and finish washin’ my glasses. You call me if you need anything, okay?” She didn’t answer him, but he saw her rouse enough to nearly empty her glass again.
At the sink, he wondered what it was she wanted to hear or even if she wanted to hear anything, and then suddenly, as if the Faerie Queene herself had whispered in his ear, it came to him. He turned to her and his movement caught her attention. He didn’t know what brought her here, and it was entirely possible she didn’t know, either. But he knew one thing: everyone wanted to hear these words.
“He says he loves you. Very, very much.” He turned back to the sink, washing the last of the glasses. When he turned to B’Elanna to take up the conversation again, he saw with some dismay that her Klingon genes had failed her.
She was slumped completely on the bar, arms splayed, out like a light. This concerned him, because he was at a loss as to what to do for her. No one from Voyager had ever passed out on his bar before. A few had come mighty close, but they always had someone to help them back to the…starship. B’Elanna was alone. He thought she was doing fine, but obviously he had badly underestimated her ability to process the alcohol. Now he felt like a heel for offering it without warning her. He wasn’t sure a warning would have made much difference to her, but he cursed himself for not doing at least that much.
Walking to her, he reached out and touched the dark, curly hair, noticing the hair beneath it was straight. So the curls were just for effect. He recalled the Klingons in the database had sported this kinked hair, even the men. He absently wondered what part of her Human ancestry had afforded her the straight hair that refused to succumb to curling.
She didn’t stir at his touch. He glanced towards the small room in the back. He kept a cot back there, but he didn’t know if he should put her on it. Unfortunately, short of carrying her all the way to his modest home, there was really nothing else he could do. He certainly wasn’t about to leave her unconscious on the bar.
He was still debating with himself about what to do when he heard the front door creak open again. This time he recognized the occupants of his doorway.
“Katie, Tom, it’s mighty good to see the both o’ you!”
Tom went directly to B’Elanna. “Hey there, Michael.” He shook B’Elanna gently, but she didn’t respond. “Bee? Damn her, I couldn’t find her! She left her communicator in her office in Engineering.”
Tom was trying to maneuver B’Elanna into his arms, but he was having trouble, as she was dead weight and as fluid as the beer she had been drinking. “Oh yeah, she’s clever all right.” She slipped further. “Shit.” He stopped for a minute to get his bearings, holding her half in his arms and half on the stool. Michael came out from behind the bar to assist him. Janeway stood by, amused. B’Elanna moaned and Tom tapped her cheek, trying to bring her around. Janeway grabbed Michael’s hand and held him back.
“Hey, hey, you there.” He glanced at the dregs of her drink. “Whaddaya think yer doin’? Didn’t Michael tell you that stuff’s alcohol?”
Her head rolled back and her eyelids fluttered. “Mmm…?” All he could see was whites.
He smacked her face a little harder. “C’mon love, awake, awake now, just for a few minutes. Please.” He knew she hated to be carried, and would probably fight him even in her present condition, but he’d have no choice if he couldn’t get her to walk on her own.
To his surprise and relief, she responded to his plea, finding her footing and standing, just barely. He threw one arm over his shoulder, took her around the waist, and began to steer her out of the bar. As he passed Michael, the barkeep spoke.
“Tom, I didn’t tell her it was alcohol. I’m sorry. I swear t’God I thought it wasn’t necessary. One minute she was fine and the next she wasn’t. But I think she’d have drunk it even if she had known. She was all tied up about you, Tom. Kept askin’ me what kinda things you said about her.”
Tom balanced B’Elanna against him. She was still standing under her own power, but she was also leaning heavily on him. “It’s all right, Michael. Not your fault.” He looked at B’Elanna’s beautiful face, relaxed and free of the stress it usually carried when she was conscious, and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. “What’d you tell her?”
“Just what ya told me, Tom, but I’m thinkin’ it’s high time ya told her yourself, ya know?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well, that’s a good thing. I was afraid I’d have t’sic Liam on you if you didn’t.”
Tom chuckled. “C’mon, B’Elanna, it’s time to go home.” He started walking forward, urging her to move with him, but she wouldn’t. He looked into her face and saw that her eyes were open. Unfocused, but open. She pushed away from him and stood upright, swaying slightly.
“Nope,” he agreed, “it’s not so bad.”
“That can certainly be arranged. What say we first go see the Doc for a nice shot of detox, and then you get a good night’s sleep, and then we’ll see about coming back here tomorrow afternoon. How’s that sound?”
She smiled lopsidedly and swayed dangerously. “S’great. Tommie…youlove…this…” There was a half-second’s hesitation, as if she were about to say one word, and then quickly changed it to another. “…town.” She didn’t linger over the misstep. “D’y luvme?”
Michael leaned towards Tom and whispered, “Here’s your chance, Tommy-boy, don’t blow it. And the next time, don’t wait for her t’ask.” He drew Janeway into his arms and they stepped backwards, away from Tom and B’Elanna, into the shadows at the far end of the bar.
Tom stepped up to B’Elanna and took hold of her hips to keep her steady. She might be very drunk, but it was clear she knew exactly what she had asked. He also knew she would remember in the morning what his answer had been. But his answer was easy. It had been in his heart since, well, since their experience with the Vidiians and possibly well before that. Now the words came so easily to his lips he couldn’t believe it had taken him this long to say them.
“Yes. I love you, B’Elanna Torres. I love you very much.” He circled his arms around her, bent to her dry, parted lips, and kissed her. She responded with the final bit of her consciousness, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him deeply, and then collapsing utterly against him. He lifted her easily and without protest into his arms and exited Sullivan’s to wait for the morning’s light.